Alcoholism can be devastating to your family. Unfortunately, despite efforts to help an alcoholic spouse, your relationship could reach a point at which you have to decide whether or not to remain in the marriage. If you are considering divorce and share children with your spouse, here are some tips to help you prepare for the process.
Gather Evidence of Your Spouse's Addiction
Most states allow for no-fault divorces, but your spouse's addiction could still be important if you have children. If you are concerned about your spouse's ability to properly care for the children while battling alcoholism, you will need to prove to the court that his or her addiction exists and that it interferes with his or her decision-making.
In family court cases involving custody, the judge is tasked with determining what is in the best interests of the children. By gathering evidence of your spouse's addiction and how it has impacted his or her daily life, you are providing the proof needed to prevent your spouse from having custody. Your evidence could even impact the visitation order.
It is important to note that although the divorce decree effectively ends your marriage to your spouse, there is still a chance that a modification for custody and financial support could be made. If you feel guilty about restricting the other parent's access to your children, once he or she is sober, both of you can ask for a modification that would give him or her more rights.
Create a Parenting Agreement
Part of protecting your children during this process involves creating a parenting agreement. The agreement can be used as the foundation for the custodial order that is included in the final divorce decree. The parenting agreement will not necessarily be accepted by your spouse or the court, but it can be a starting point for negotiations.
You can use the parenting agreement to do more than establish visitation and support. You can use it to protect your children from potentially dangerous situations.
For instance, you could require that your spouse be subjected to alcohol testing before he or she is allowed to leave with the children on visitation. If your spouse has a history of drunk driving charges, you might even be able to convince the judge to agree to the addition of a breath alcohol ignition interlock device to prevent your spouse from driving with the children while intoxicated.
Talk to your divorce attorney about other ways you can protect your children throughout your divorce.